NEW KINGSTOWN — The vaunted offense of the Greencastle-Antrim girls soccer team met its match Thursday evening.
Playing in the District 3 Class 3A championship game, the Blue Devils were unable to penetrate the clingy defense of Lower Dauphin and were defeated 2-0 at Cumberland Valley’s Eagle View Field.
“We tried everything,” G-A coach Chris Noblit said. “But their defense was strong and their offense was good, too. I’d say the better team won.”
Greencastle (18-2-1) will be the No. 2 seed from District 3 in the PIAA Tournament, which begins Tuesday. G-A will play the District 11 champion, Pottsville, at that school’s home field.
LD (18-3-1) will host the No. 2 team from District 12.
The Blue Devils started the game with Mia Libby in the midfield and Haley Noblit running up top. But Noblit could not find any appreciable space to operate in because she was marked so closely.
In the second half, down 1-0, the two switched, with Libby moving to striker and Noblit to center mid. It nearly paid off big time.
Less than 30 seconds into the half, Noblit found Libby with a pass. She shielded her defender and had a chance to put one past onrushing LD goalkeeper Lauren Wahlers, but Wahlers was able to block the shot as the three players collided.
Libby said, “It was a great ball in by Haley and a good play by the keeper. We were both going full speed and I got my head on it, but then she grabbed it.”
It turned out to be the only real good chance for the Blue Devils.
Greencastle had eight shots to the Falcons’ nine and forced Wahlers to make five saves, but most were routine.
Libby said, “We didn’t connect our passes in the midfield like we usually do. We weren’t finding feet and had too many turnovers.”
“When we switched Mia and Haley, Mia had been having trouble getting the ball to Haley,” coach Noblit said. “It seemed to work a little better and Haley found Mia with some passes that gave us chances.”
G-A center back Rylee Henson said, “With our 4-4-2 formation, it can be hard to help our two forwards (when the midfield is clogged). And we had to stay compact in the middle.”
Most of the first half consisted of one team probing the other for a weakness and not finding any.
But the Falcons broke through for a goal just 4:38 before halftime. Midfielder Ashley Economopoulos, with her back to the goal, back-heeled a pass through the surprised Blue Devil defense.
Her older sister, Katelyn Economopoulos, made one quick move to put the ball on her right foot, and sent a shot past goalkeeper Lexi Nelson.
Henson said, “It’s hard to stop passes you’re not expecting. I had been watching film (of LD) all day and I didn’t expect that one.”
After the near-miss by Libby, the game went back-and-forth again until Lower Dauphin scored the clinching goal. With 26:42 left, Talya McFarlane ripped a low shot toward the left corner of the net. Nelson dove to save the ball, but after she hit the turf, the ball came free and LD’s Hannah Sanson poked it across the goal line.
“Lexi just couldn’t get possession on that one,” Chris Noblit said.
The Falcons then effectively killed the clock the rest of the way, never allowing Greencastle to get comfortable on offense.
Lower Dauphin 2, Greencastle-Antrim 0
Greencastle 0 0 — 0
Lower Dauphin 1 1 — 2
LD — Katelyn Economopoulos, asst. Ashley Economopoulos, 35th minute
LD — Hannah Sanson, asst. Talya McFarlane, 53rd minute
Shots — GA 8; LD 9. Shots on goal — GA 5; LD 7. Corner kicks — GA 1; LD 3. Saves — GA 5 (Lexi Nelson); LD 5 (Lauren Wahlers). Fouls — GA 9; LD 9. Offsides — GA 0; LD 4.
Categories: Girls Soccer, Greencastle
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